I read or listened to 37 books this year, if I’m counting correctly. Here are a few that stood out to me. Continue reading “Reflecting on reading”
Taking time to reflect on what is vital in life is important. We need to set aside time regularly to reflect on what drives us internally.
What brings passion to my life? What makes me want to get up and get at things in life every day?
Recently reflecting on what drives me right now, and rejoicing so deeply over what is going on in our church and ministry, I jotted down a couple of things that get me up every day.
- My family. Our boys are grown and gone. Two are married. We have one grandson. (Have I told you about him?) 🙂 And when I reflect on my family, on where my wife and I are in life, I am filled with joy. I watch young men do life and see what God is doing in them. I have wonderful conversations with my wife and enjoy much more time with her… and I am driven every day to pray for them. I am filled with joy every day seeing what is happening in their lives.
- My church. Our church has turned a major corner. We are in a new day that is magnificent. What is ahead is exciting and fun. It’s hard work. WOW! Is it hard work! But joy-filled work that will yield harvest for the Kingdom. We will see more churches planted. We will see the Spirit touch our city. I want my story to be “written” showing my deep love for the church where I get to pastor.
- My city. I love the Twin Cities. Winters drive me nuts (except for this last one), but it’s not all about the weather. It’s about the people. Where our church is… well, I really love that part of the city. I watch people do incredible things in that city. They work hard. They love people. They make the schools better. They make the city better.
I can wake up every day with a driving passion to help my family, my church, and my city thrive. The Lord has gifted me with these precious passions. Where I feel his presence and empowerment most is when I am doing something in those three areas. This is where I want my “story” to be known. This is where my passions lie.
There are two “words” the Lord dropped into my heart for 2016.
He has given these words for my family and my church. This will be a year of provision. This will be a year of harvest. So much has transitioned in such a short time. For our church, we are out of our old building and into a smaller space, changing up our model of ministry, and awaiting final permits to build a coffee shop. It is a year where the Lord stabilized us and has prepared us for harvest. In 2016 he is speaking HARVEST for us.
That is not set aside from the fact of HARD WORK. There is much work to do, but the more valuable work, as always, is the hidden work. PRAYER.
Today’s Gospel reading is from Luke 2. Two of my favorite characters in Scripture, and we know so little about them: Simeon and Anna. They are easy to pass over. Not only is there not much said about them… but add in the fact they are OLD, and it’s easy to miss their stories. Even in that day, who would pay attention to a couple of old folks wandering around the Temple court day after day? What else did they have to do?
But they gave themselves to the HARD WORK: prayer. Who else had “time” for that?
Through their hard work of prayer, the Lord rewarded them. On the day Joseph and Mary brought the baby to the Temple, the Spirit alerted them both, and the reward of their perseverance was placed in their arms.
I love the words God has given me for 2016. I also know the BEST route to the fulfillment of those words is the HARD ROAD. It is the road of prayer. When temptation rises up and tells me I need to “work” in another way (and there IS work in other ways) I need to hear the voice of the Spirit. There is time for physical labor and there is is a time for spiritual labor. We need both.
2016 will provide plenty of opportunity for BOTH types of labor. We cannot neglect prayer.
There needs to be a daily calling out. Then, for me, there are specific times of “going away.” There are also times of “giving up.” Through all of it I keep a constant list with me. (I use an app on Android called “PrayerMate”.) The list keeps me at the task of intercession. I keep the Word with me, especially the Psalms, so I can hear the call of the Spirit more clearly.
Daily, I wait on the Lord. I lift up needs along the way.
Periodically, I need to withdraw to pray in silence. That is the way of new power in my life.
Then, I also need to “give up.” Periods of fasting and prayer. Lent is an opportunity for me.
Through all of it, as I “work hard” in prayer, the Lord WILL bring HIS WORD to me: Abundance. Harvest.
Let 2016 be an amazing year of abundance for us all! May we most of all have the abundance of his presence!
Two words the Lord gave me for our church and for my own life going into 2015:
Transformation is best summed up in these words of Jesus (from the Common English Bible):
17 From that time Jesus began to announce, “Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven!” (Matt. 4:17)
It is about changing our hearts and lives. Kingdom living and thinking is just not on the same level as the junk of this world. The picture I have in my own mind for 2015 is going up to a table FULL of junk… just piled high with stuff that doesn’t get dealt with over time… and shoving it off the table. All of it. Don’t even try to sort it. Dump it off, take it to the trash, and start new.
Now, let the King arrange that table.
It is time to change our way of thinking. The Master Teacher will bring in new application, new ideas, and the power to get it done. But we have to shove the junk of this world’s thinking out.
There were three things the Lord gave me that I will do immediately to symbolize shoving off the junk in my life. They must be done quickly and without mercy. They are only symbols for me, but still powerful.
The other challenge is an “easy” one for me, but I will enter it because I want to challenge others. It is the #Biblefor21 challenge from YouVersion Bible. I will pledge to read and Tweet Bible passages every day for the first 21 days of January. I want to be ROOTED in the written Word! I may not Tweet a particular passage from one of their plans, but I will be going through my daily reading and sharing along the way. Join me!
It is time to live a life of repentance. It’s not a one time action. It is a constant action to allow the King to keep setting the table.
The time in which we live gives us far more accessibility to truly great writing. It also gives us access to truly bad writing as well.
Yesterday I was reflecting on life in the 1800s in the United States and thinking of how few books there were. Abraham Lincoln had limited access to books growing up, but he read deeply.
There are only a handful of books I’ve ever taken the time to read again.
So my thought for the next year is this: If I had my Bible and ten other books, what would those books be?
There are certainly others I want to read, and that might be another project for another year. (For instance, I have not read Mandela’s autobiography, but just purchased it. Not having read it, I wouldn’t put it on my top ten list yet.)
I have 6-7 books listed that I know off the top of my head I HAVE to have if I had to give up everything else. Now it’s fitting those last 3-4 in.
My new year resolution might be to ONLY read those 10 books again… and again… for the year and see if I can capture a little more depth.
If you had a “TOP TEN” book list, and you got the automatic for the Bible or your main religious text, what would be on that list?
New year. New “resolutions.”
One key thought in making “resolutions” or goals is this: What gets put on a calendar gets done. That isn’t a hard and fast rule, but if you put it on the calendar, you make the commitment.
I have to THINK about what is on my calendar.
This new year has given me the goal of finally getting my body in shape. I have to plan. There were steps to take to get a gym membership and have that level of accountability in my life. I know what level of accountability keeps me on track.
Then, it’s a matter of getting it on the calendar.
THE QUESTION: How do you “get things done?” What helps you?
It’s always a good time for reflection and dreaming about what is ahead. There are a few things I want to see ahead in my own life, especially this year.
1. Reflect more. Spend more time reflecting on the day.
2. Dream more. We have a special silent retreat coming up, then our church has a missions trip. These are huge opportunities where God can do something spectacular. It is time to dream bigger.
3. Keep on laughing. This is a time of my life I thoroughly enjoy. Our youngest is a senior in high school and seeing God do great things in his life. Our other two sons are in college. We have a daughter-in-law. It’s just a very nice spot in our lives. I want to keep on laughing and enjoying the journey. There are tough times, without a doubt, but I want to keep my in perspective.
In all things, the most important thing is to keep our eyes glued to the Author and Finisher of our faith.
And for today… I enjoy one last day off, spend some special time with family, and get back into the swing of things tomorrow.